The World That Wasn’t Changed: Or Was It?
The World That Wasn’t Changed: Or Was It?
By Mikel W. Dawson
We’ve spent plenty of time talking about the “Greatest Generation,” those who fought WWII. Now I want to focus on some of those who were their kids – those who went to Vietnam.As members of Together We Served.com we each have a profile page where we can post our military careers so all can see. We get connected with our Brothers/Sisters-in-Arms and communicate. We also have memorial pages for those who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice – their lives. I have volunteered to help honor those who’ve fallen in Vietnam and this is what I want to talk a bit about.
To begin with, it was something to do, something to still be “taking care of soldiers.” My final job in the Army as a Sergeant Major I did plenty of “taking care of soldiers” and enjoyed it. So this was naturally a good deal for me. I was helping families to remember their loved ones who came home in a box under a flag. But after a while it soon began to have an effect on me. As I was doing the research of these soldiers still on patrol, I really began to learn a little part of their lives, and how their loss affected loved ones and is still affecting those who lived the experiences with them and many times held them as they died. And for a while I had to stop working on them just to collect myself.
Many of these brave men were drafted, they had no choice. Well maybe they did, they could have turned tail and ran to Canada as some did, but they stood their ground and answered their nation’s call, despite all the unrest that was against them. Was this due to the fact of their parent’s, the Greatest Generation’s sacrifices? Or was it something else. We’ll never really know what they were thinking.
As I have learned about many of these young men, and I use the word ‘young’ as many were under 20-years-old when they departed this life, I’ve also wondered how the loss of over 58,000 lives has affected the world. I stopped one day and thought there were thousands upon thousands of Moms and Dads who lost their kids. How many wives and children who went without, I’ve never stopped to count, nor do I want to think about it. I’ve read what parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, guys who fought, bled and held them have written and it has really affected the way I look at these profiles. Most all of these young men were counting on coming home. Many had plans for a job, school, they had their favorite car, motorcycle just waiting for them. Many had girlfriends,engaged to be married, many were married, many had children they never got to hold or know. Many had little ones they left at home who hardly have any memories of their Dads.
The worst part for these who gave so much is they were virtually stepped on for what they did. A soldier is not political, he goes to war because there are so many who will not and need someone else to do the dirty work for them. These men could have taken the easy way out, but they didn’t, and now they are forever young. There were men who’d gone to college and were on the way to be something great. There was the mechanic who loved to work on cars. That ranch kid who’d grown up on a horse working cattle, the farmer’s son who knew how to grow a crop and was coming home to take over the family business. Many were from the city who had no idea what being out in the jungle was until they hit the Army or Marines. All walks of life were represented by the fallen of Vietnam. I just wonder how the world would have been changed if these lives could have been spared to sudden end they came to and was able to fulfill their lives?
Every generation has those who’ve answered the call and hopefully always will. My generation’s war was nothing like the “Great Generation’s” war, but we did our part as have everyone before me and as those who follow me will continue to do.
One other thing I’ve had to think about – what is the price those who served with them are still paying every day? Many of the Vietnam Vets are now in their 60’s and 70’s. Many of these men have lived with the feelings of guilt – they survived and their buddy didn’t. A picture can bring back those vivid memories and events as if they were yesterday. From my research I know for the past 30-years or so, the living never forgot their buddies, nor will they ever.
So I am back to work on my profiles now. I had to take a break. I guess it also takes me a little more time to do one because I read everything I can of the soldier I am honoring. Many times I only get one an evening done because I just got to read and remember him. I know one thing as long as there is an internet, and Together We Serve.com is there, those still on patrol will never be forgotten.
Mikel W. Dawson grew up as a country boy west of Caldwell, Idaho. Worked a number of years as a professional guide in the Wilderness Area in Central Idaho. Completed almost 23-years military service as a Sergeant Major. Currently reside in Lintrup, Denmark, he runs his own business shoeing horses. In addition to his writing and his work with horses, the author enjoys metalworking, studying history, and travel. He has written and published two books: GUIDE’S LIFE and THOUGHTS OF A CRAZY OLD MAN